Men among the mammoths? (1825–30)

in Worlds Before Adam

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780226731285
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226731308 | DOI:
Men among the mammoths? (1825–30)

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This chapter considers the question of whether humans co-existed with the extinct “antediluvial” mammals. The discovery of human bones mixed with those of the unmistakably “antediluvial” species suggests that humans had indeed lived among the extinct mammals, but also that the human presence might have continued uninterrupted into historical times, while the fauna was changing by piecemeal extinction. However, although Buckland retained confidence in his diluvial theory, he was explicitly willing to see it modified by accepting that humans might have spread at an early date as far as Europe, before the putative diluvial event overwhelmed the megafauna. Georges Cuvier was more resistant to any modification of his long-standing claim that the event was not only real and decisive, but also that it marked a genuine and sharp boundary between the human world and an earlier one which had been wholly prehuman, at least in Europe.

Keywords: humans; fauna; antediluvial species; William Buckland; Georges Cuvier; diluvial theory; fossils

Chapter.  6454 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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